Thursday, January 2, 2014

PGA Merchandise Show - Thoughts

The PGA Show in Orlando is an important Mecca in an industry that is defined by important events, tradition and camaraderie.  It is an opportunity to take a look at the big picture of what is important to the industry and then dig into the new and boutique-type vendors. It mandates that you carefully review last season’s business and strategically plan for 2014. With that as muse, I googled “PGA Show planner for buyers” and got 448,000 search results.

Looking through the results of this search I realized that most of the information provided in this search suggests the obvious - that you make appointments - and provides the list of vendors available for these appointments. This overview will take a look at some of the considerations that could be part of those decisions, planning the appropriate appointments to be made and what could be accomplished per visit in Orlando.

First and foremost, the show is a terrific place to become familiar with the leaders of the industry on both sides of the table and, in that respect, it is as much an educational journey as it is a commercial enterprise. If you already have a relationship with a vendor but only on a local level, this is the perfect time to expand the affiliation.

Part of the review and buy-plan preparation should be to develop a promotion calendar and buy to it. This process should also include thinking through a list of new categories to introduce to your members/regulars. All successful retail in this tough market place is planning enticing promotions and changing up their mix of product selection in order to keep their customer base interested. If nothing is going on, the typical customer is somewhat offended by the lack of effort as they know how much harder and smarter they are working in order to compete in their field of endeavor. The first step in planning promotions should be to run an inventory report and look for red flags of overage that you already own. An example would be the shop that has been carrying inventory on four different brands of gloves and has decided that going forward they will not lose a sale by only carrying three. The first promotion of the season could be to merchandise the outgoing glove with incoming shirts and give away a glove with the purchase of a new shirt. The point is you don’t always have to buy to promote, but if you do the show is a great place to look for ideas.  Some examples of such categories that you may not already be involved with could include:

  • Better Slacks - Aristo 18 - Super Wool Slacks
  • Stationary – Club logoed and personalized per member
Cynthia Wark - Personal Golf Fan

As already mentioned, probably one of the most important things one can accomplish while in Orlando is to network your way to the top with existing vendors. Typically the owners and/or managers of the exhibiting vendors are available and enjoy meeting and visiting with their customers. They have a mutual desire as you should to strengthen the partnership and are open to conversation about the other aspects of that relationship and not just pre-booking orders. 

  • Have you discussed all available fixture programs, POS pieces and merchandising aids?
  • Explain the display you have planned for their product and get their ideas.
  • Discuss the walking mannequins in your shop and what the best deal is to get your staff either using or wearing their product.
  • Discuss the best method for educating your staff as to how to intelligently discuss their product.
  • What is your total risk? Is there any plan to help on the back end if there is not ample sell-through?
  • Invite your new acquaintance to your facility, you may become part of their marketing plan going forward.
  • Discuss your plans or programs they may have to help you market their brand through social media or other on-line projects.
Sharon Sunoo owner of Birdie and Grace
 talks with Win McMurry (Golf Channel)

The numbers from last year suggest 1100 plus vendors and approximately 42,000 of the important people in the industry under one roof for three days. There are countless workshops and seminars starting with Demo Day and carrying through to the end of the show. All that being the case, this is an incredible opportunity to learn about the industry. That being said it is also overwhelming and best to be focused on what it is you want to learn and accomplish.